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THE JEFFERSON AWARDS: Our January winner helps children find buddies

At just nine years old, our January winner is our youngest ever, who’s making sure every kid he knows always has a buddy.

It all started with an idea:

"To help kids not be lonely."

Last summer, Jefferson Elementary School fourth-grader Landon Wilburn decided to raise money to buy a buddy bench.

It’s a place where kids can go to sit if they need someone to play with.

If other kids see someone sitting there, they know they should invite them to play.

Landon says it makes him feel sad to see kids without a playmate.

"Because then they don’t have someone to play with and they feel lonely."

Our cameras were there this summer when Landon organized a garage sale to raise money.

"Some people just came and gave money for free and didn’t buy any stuff," Landon said. 

And when the Buddy Bench was finally installed in November, Landon says he immediately saw its impact. 

"Every day I walk to school I see a kid on the bench and then I usually see a kid running to the bench and then they ask them and I see them run off together," he said. 

On the bench, there’s a plaque that reads "I don’t like to see kids not have friends so feel free to come sit and make friends."

Landon’s grandmother, Pam Lamb, nominated him for the Jefferson Award. 

"I’m really proud of him, I’m proud of what he’s done," she said. "It was just a really cool, something that you want, hope they take away. This whole experience of what you can do if you put your mind to it."

Landon is already thinking of what he can do next to make a difference.

In all, Landon raised about $700.

The buddy bench only cost about $500, so he and his grandma used the remaining funds to help pay for teachers books. 

If you know someone who’s also making a difference, you can nominate them for a Jefferson Award here


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